Women’s breathing and respiratory function is directly affected by their menstrual cycle. If we understand this we may be able to reduce fatigue, breathlessness (including asthma), pain and mood disorders.  In the article below written by Breath Control Therapist Alex Huston, you will begin to understand how breathing techniques we can hack our menstrual cycle. 

A research study was done in Norway by Dr. Mascalli, in 2013 called “Menstral Cycle and the respiratory systems in a general Nortic-Baltic population”. This study indicates that the respiratory symptoms frequently worsen during the mid-luteal phase to mid-follicular phases of the menstrual cycle – between days 10 to 22 of the cycle. The Follicular Phase is from day 1 to 14, and the Luteal Phase is from days 22-28.

Ventilation systems increase in the late Follicular to Luteal Phase because of the rise in progesterone.  When we breath fast/ hyperventilation our heart rate increases and tension increases. This may be related to increased asthma, pain, fatigue and mood disorder. 

In general the effects of the menstrual cycle on respiratory symptoms have not been well studied. In a cohort of nearly 4,000 women, they found notable and consistent changes in respiratory symptoms according to menstrual cycle phase. These patterns varied according to body mass index (BMI), asthma, and smoking status in women.

Dr. Macsali and team who preformed this study enrolled 3,926 women whose cycles were regular and who were not taking any additional sex hormones or medications. They all completed questionnaires which asked them about their body mass index (BMI), menstrual cycles, respiratory symptoms, and smoking status.

They found a considerable variation through out the menstrual cycle for each symptom.

  • Wheezing symptoms were most severe on cycles day 10 to 22
  • The participants reported a mid-cycle dip in wheezing symptoms during ovulation (days 14 to 16)
  • Shortness of breath symptoms were most severe on days 7 to 21. In a subgroup, shortness of breath symptom severity dipped on days 14 to 16
  • There were more coughs just after putative ovulation (days 14 to 16) in participants with asthma, regular smokers and those whose BMIs were at least 23

Dr. Macsali said:

“Our finding that respiratory symptoms vary according to the stage of the menstrual cycle is novel, as is our finding that these patterns vary according to BMI and smoking status. These relationships indicate a link between respiratory symptoms and hormonal changes through the menstrual cycle.”

There was a variation on length of the women’s menstrual cycles that may have affected the accuracy of determining the stages of the menstrual cycle.

Dr. Macsali concluded:

“Our results point to the potential for individualizing therapy for respiratory diseases according to individual symptom patterns. Adjusting asthma medication (treatment), for example, according to a woman’s menstrual cycle might improve its efficacy and help reduce disability and the costs of care.

This study shows that individual attention and treatment is extremely beneficial for women in treating breathing disorders,  moods, fatigue and pain throughout the menstrual cycle. 

Breath Control Therapy can personalize a plan to help regulate your breathing patterns and hack your menstrual cycle. 

Functional breathing alone will decrease tension and pain but when paired with scientifically proven breathing techniques we can gain control over our fluctuating symptoms due to our menstrual cycle.

Contact Breath Control Therapist – Alex Huston (alex@breathcontrol.ca) for individual session details or dates of upcoming group sessions. 


Research study from Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, Norway, reported in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Dr. Macsalli.

How The Menstrual Cycle Affects Respiratory Symptoms, Including Asthma

(Article by Christian Nordqvist on November 12, 2012